News about educationPosted by Sylvie Hendrickx Tue, November 29, 2011 22:28:51
Prospective students are filing an increasing number of
residence permit applications with Finnish officials. Family ties were however
the most common basis for residence permit applications as of the end of
The Finnish Immigration Service made decisions on 17,055
residence applications between January and September of this year. On average,
about 82 percent were approved.
About a third of applications on the basis of family ties
were denied. Meanwhile residence permits were granted in 93 percent of the
processed applications that were made with a view to studying in Finland.
Education in Finland appealed partly because it was more
affordable than in Sweden or the UK, for instance.
Fewer Somalis apply
Reasons for declining residence permits to perspective
students varied, but typically it was also a question of money. Either
unsuccessful applicants could not prove that they had sufficient money to
support themselves, or the source of their money was unclear.
In some cases, it was document forgery, for example of bank
statements or diplomas, that led to rejection.
Altogether 18,327 people from outside the EU submitted
applications for residence permits in the first nine months of this year. This
number is a couple of percent higher than last year’s figure for the same time
by nationalities, most applications were filed by Russians, Somalis, Chinese
and Indians. However the number of applications from Somalis clearly
dropped compared to last year.
From: yle.fi, dd 29/11/2011
News about educationPosted by Sylvie Hendrickx Mon, November 28, 2011 19:06:26
comparison in weekly classroom hours .
union representing teachers here in Finland, the OAJ, is calling for longer
school days as a part of an upcoming reform in the national curriculum.
Finnish children spend well below the OECD national average of hours in class,
academic performance is among the best in the world.
national curriculum for elementary schools is currently being formulated behind
closed doors at the Ministry of Education. The group of civil servants working
on reforms have not shown the plans even to the OAJ, the union that represents
this were a broadly-based, publicly-open working group, it would be possible to
provide comments as the work progresses. As it is, we will not be able to take
a position before it is finalized, and then it's in the hands of the
politicians," remarks OAJ chair Olli Luukkainen.
curriculum reform proposed last year was withdrawn after a clash over the
expansion of elective subjects in elementary schools. That plan was vocally
opposed by the OAJ, the Centre Party and the Association of Finnish Local and
to what the OAJ has been able to find out, the curriculum proposal now expected
in February will not contain any major reforms. However, it does think it
probably that the new curriculum will increase the number of classroom hours.
have the impression that it's being considered in a positive light. We think
there should be the funds available. The number of school hours in Finland is
below the OECD average," notes Olli Luukkainen.
He adds the
view that more teaching time in the classroom could lead to better academic
days, better results?
schoolchildren have among the shortest school days in any of the OECD
countries. The number of hours spent in the classroom in Finland is just over
22 a week; in South Korea it is over 33.
Jouni Välijärvi of the University of Jyväskylä, who coordinates the OECD's
Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in Finland, says that
longer days elsewhere is not a good reason to extend school days here.
PISA results show that this number of hours enables excellent results. It
should be carefully considered if this would be an efficient method. It would
also mean considerable expense," points out Professor Välijärvi.
school day of South Korean public school pupils often continues with extra
lessons in private schools, while Finnish pupils have more free time. Both rank
at the top of the PISA ratings.
In the view
of Professor Jouni Välijärvi, instead of longer days in the classroom, Finland
should invest in more special education and after-school club activities.
seems to be something in the air in other developed countries urging an
increase in the systematic education of small children. I am not convinced that
this is wise. It could produce exactly the opposite results intended."
From: yle.fi, dd 28/11/2011
News about educationPosted by Sylvie Hendrickx Fri, November 25, 2011 20:57:39
stoppage on Tuesday by employees of the Tampere city-owned Tampereen Ateria
catering service means that around 20,000 children at schools and daycare
centres will not have access to their regular lunches. Parents have been
advised to pack lunches for their children.
parents cannot or do not provide a packed lunch, pupils will not go hungry.
School officials have been given permission to raid school kitchen pantries,
and daycare centre workers can purchase food from local shops.
mandates that all pupils are provided with a full meal, free of charge, each
of children in daycare centres are being advised to pack sandwiches, fruit and
other foodstuffs that do not require warming.
child will go unfed. We have the possibility to go to the shop to buy food if a
child shows up for the day without a packed lunch," the Jussinkylä daycare
centre told parents.
everyone is worried about Tuesday's lack of a hot lunch.
think it's fun to bring a packed lunch. I like banana yogurt," says Tiitus
Savonen, one of the children at the Jussinkylä daycare centre.
of Tampereen Ateria are carrying out the Tuesday work stoppage to protest plans
to outsource catering services. The action will also affect city workplace
cafeterias, but will not affect hospitals or care facilities for the elderly.
From: yle.fi, dd 23/11/2011
News about educationPosted by Sylvie Hendrickx Fri, November 25, 2011 20:40:48
Bus brings southern Europe to Joensuu schools.
past three years, a travelling language fair has been visiting primary schools
in Finland to pique pupils' interest in foreign language studies. This week
students in the eastern city of Joensuu were given a taste of German, French,
Russian and Spanish.
Pielisjoki school near Joensuu, salsa rhythms help pupils master Spanish
basics. A travelling language fair organised by the National Board of Education
paid a visit to schools in the area to expose kids to foreign tongues.
programme aims to reach seventh graders facing a decision on which third
foreign language they will choose in the eighth grade.
is to make language learning fun.
like to study Italian or Spanish -- they're jolly languages," says seventh
grader Emilia Tukiainen.
would be pretty fun," says her friend Julia Ripatti.
pupil Simo Asikainen takes a pragmatic approach. "I would like to try
German. It seems easy," he says.
Pielisjoki say they want to see a broad selection of languages offered to their
students. German and French are the most common elective foreign languages
studied in Joensuu, though students can also take Russian, which seems a
natural choice, given the city's close proximity to Russia.
from: yle.fi, dd 25/11/2011
News about educationPosted by Sylvie Hendrickx Sun, November 13, 2011 13:05:59
Minister of Education recently stating that Finland needs the number of foreign
students here to increase in future, just how will an already difficult job
market cater to this influx of international resources?
appearing at the top of various polls, the Finnish education system has
acquired an international reputation for its high level of quality. Thus, among
the higher education student body today, currently there are some 15,700
foreign students enrolled here in Finland, divided almost equally between
university and polytechnic institutions.
this number makes up a mere 4 per cent of the student body nationwide – far
behind such countries as the UK, which sees more than 20 per cent of their students
coming from abroad. More startlingly, according to recent figures, 70 per cent
of all non-Finnish graduates are leaving the country upon the completion of
their degree, which begs the question: is Finland merely preparing students –
for free – in order for them to benefit other countries and economies?
Minister of Education Jukka Gustafsson recently declared that Finland needs
more foreign students in future in order to ensure that the high quality of
education here is sustained. Seeking an increase to 20,000 international
students by 2015, the overwhelming fact still remains that the majority of
students will inevitably take their skills elsewhere upon graduation unless
steps are taken to stem the flow.
much want to stay in Finland,” explains Chris Pape-Mustonen, a PhD
post-graduate, originally from the United Kingdom. “I have a wife and family, I
enjoy the culture and have developed a life for myself here. I am, however,
conscious of the possibility of leaving, and this is based almost solely on the
difficulty of finding work. If I am unable to find meaningful employment here,
I will be forced to consider leaving.”
abundantly clear for foreign students here is that networking is a very
important tool for obtaining employment in their chosen fields. Although
companies regularly plunder both undergraduate and postgraduate students even
before they graduate, international students can still find it difficult to
establish contacts in their particular industry.
“A lack of
networks can be a barrier to finding entry level work,” offers Pape-Mustonen.
“[When studying] there was one short course on job seeking, which dealt with
many general issues about looking for work, and in which the larger scale
problems related to foreigners were raised but, understandably, not tackled in
any meaningful way. The issue of networking is certainly something you are
warned about, and indeed it seems like an issue that a foreign student can
effectively tackle. However, those foreign students who do have problems
establishing a network can be at a serious disadvantage to Finns who are born
with such an advantage.”
“The main challenge for international students to find employment is the lack of networks.”
Help is not
necessarily at hand
according to American-born professor at the University of Helsinki, Paul
Ilsley, the major problem preceding the fact that international students are
leaving is that many of them do not graduate in the first place. A much higher
percentage of international students drop out of their courses than native
students, and this is in part due to the poor care and attention they receive –
or rather don’t – from their faculty.
some students have been known to wait up to two years before seeing an adviser,
something that shocks Ilsley. “Moral indignation does not even begin to sum up
this situation,” he says. “I have known colleagues joke about this situation
and they do nothing to help the international students; it is systematic social
inequality and accentuates the spectre of Finnishness for the sake of
to Ilsley, Finland needs foreigners, as they can benefit the country as a whole
and more should be done to keep them here. If they are given the opportunities
– firstly in networking and then in gainful employment – then they in turn will
be able to provide networking assistance to the next generation, and so the
Ilsley believes that this again links back to the attitude of the academic
staff, who adopt the stance of “How will this benefit me?” The simple answer in
this case would seem to be that they can benefit from having more people
graduate, which in turns allows them more funding and further enhances their
reputation both here and abroad.
talk concerning the introduction of tuition fees that would apply to
foreigners, but not to Finnish students, it remains to be seen how this will
affect the internationalisation of education in future. It must be pointed out
that the individual departments cannot simply charge fees as they wish, but
they can apply to the central administration of their university to charge only
international students – there is no course of action for charging Finnish
students: it simply cannot be done. This fills Ilsley with dismay. “Not only is
this crazy, it is discriminatory. This is an anti-pedagogical practice – the
students are being targeted, and they know it.”
• 4% of the
student body here in Finland is international, or
students, about half of whom are in universities,
and half at
• 1,200 of
29,100 university degrees in 2010 were awarded to
students here are made up of over 100 nationalities,
largest single group being from China.
• 70% of
international students in Finland move abroad after
perhaps the most pressing issue that is responsible for driving students abroad
upon graduation is a very obvious and contentious one: puhutko suomea?
complaint is that international students do not learn Finnish, but the reality
is that the chances of them doing so are remote,” explains Ilsley. “In my
experience, there is only one class available. This is very poor. Furthermore,
it is a vicious circle: the belief amongst the academic staff is that if they
can’t help themselves then why should we help them? Only if they learn Finnish
can they then help themselves, but there is no desire to offer them that
Finnish lessons at my university, which students should work hard at, however
your Finnish is unlikely to be job-ready upon graduation,” Pape-Mustonen
difficulty of learning the local language has been previously well documented,
there are still examples of foreigners successfully working here who have been
able to learn to speak Finnish during their studies.
“I put a
big effort into learning the language,” explains former student Érico Melo,
originally from Portugal. “My girlfriend’s family always encouraged me to learn
Finnish, emphasising that the language is really important, and that you have
to learn Finnish to be successful in working life.
in Finnish, Melo graduated from his studies in Gerontology three years ago and
currently works as a supervisor in a supported residential facility for the
elderly. Although he himself is now comfortably placed within the work force
here, he acknowledges that a change of attitude is needed for employers here to
truly embrace foreign workers, even when they possess adequate Finnish skills.
always in the news that we need people to take care of our old people, this
area needs more educated people and so on. It’s ridiculous, as I know that
there are people living here who don’t have a job and have studied in this
area, but can’t get work because they are foreigners.”
his bewilderment is the fact that Melo’s current foreign work colleagues are
regularly praised for the different approach that they have towards their work.
have some misconceptions, thinking that foreigners will not show up for work on
time and so on. And then they start realising that these people are actually
responsible, and that people from Africa, for example, show more respect for
the elderly people, honouring them; they see the older people as still being
very important people. On the other hand perhaps the youngsters here don’t
respect old people as much. Many of my Finnish colleagues actually feel that
it’s really good to have foreigners working here; they really care for the
believes, however, that Finland is just beginning to wake up to the
possibilities of foreign workers, and the fact that these culturally different
approaches to work can have very positive consequences.
have seen in working life is that people are becoming more international here,”
he observes. “Of course you see Timo Soini and that not everywhere are people so
accepting of foreigners, but in general people’s attitudes are changing and
they are becoming more accepting.”
the recent announcement of the intended internationalisation of higher
education here, there is increasingly more work being done creating a smoother
road towards employment for foreign graduates. Commencing in 2009, VALOA is a
national project co-ordinated by the University of Helsinki’s Career Services,
which is collaborating with 16 universities and universities of applied
sciences to enhance the employability of international students. Working with
both university staff and employers, the project seeks to illuminate this
growing problem of graduates leaving the country by assisting educational
facilities with readying students for working life here, while also trying to
provide employers with information about how to employ international students
and raise the awareness of the international student body in Finland.
are so unaware that we have such a huge academic talent here in Finland,”
explains Heidi Layne, Specialist in Career Guidance and Training at VALOA. “The
main challenge for international students to find employment is the lack of
networks. They don’t have enough understanding as to where to look for jobs,
and the opportunities available to them. Of course the language does play a
role, but the employers we have talked with have started to think about the
language requirements by position – there are a lot of places where you don’t
actually need to know much Finnish. There is this turning point right now.”
attitudes swing gradually more in the favour of the international
graduate-cum-jobseeker here in future, will the forecasted saturation of the
job market cope, and how will the local culture change in time to accommodate
this growing demand?
the internationalisation here has been that Finnish people go abroad, so a lot
of people think, ‘we are so international because all these Finnish people have
been here, there and everywhere’, but actually we still cannot see the cultural
capital of those people that move here from somewhere else. We should stop and
see how we can utilise these young people who graduate. It’s not only the
international students but it is all over Finland with recent graduates and
believes that one significant factor lacking in Finland that would aid the
plight of the foreign graduate is collaboration between the different
ministries, educational institutions and the Chamber of Commerce, along with
the City of Helsinki and non-profit organisations. “There are a lot of people
who have a lot of resources, knowledge and the willingness to work on this. The
first thing is to collaborate. Big companies, the small and medium sized
companies, if they would see the benefits and resources of international
graduates it would boost their own economies. What is very positive now is that
there is a true interest. The discussion is moving from just talking and
writing about it to actually thinking what would be the model that could be
being married to a foreigner herself has allowed Layne a first-hand look at the
difficulties in obtaining employment for foreigners here, informing the
decision that she and her family made recently to act as a “friend family” for
a German exchange student, a programme that seeks to create a warmer and more
inviting environment for international students while studying here.
having just completed an interview with MTV3 earlier in the day regarding the
friend family initiative, it appears as though the issue of creating a more
welcoming environment for international students is beginning to gather
prominence in the public’s awareness.
these things support integration during their studies, and support whether the
student wishes to stay in Finland. “If I were to think how I would like Finnish
society to be I would love it to be more mixed. The more we have people, the
more we have ideas and innovations.”
Houston and James O’Sullivan.